13th Street: Battle of the Bad-Breath Bats by
David Bowles; illustrated by Shane Clester
What it's about: While exploring Gulf City's Little Mexico, cousins Malia, Dante, and Ivan accidentally wind up on 13th Street, which isn't a typical street but a creepy otherworld filled with giant, wicked Snatch Bats. Can the cousins make it out safely?
Why you might like it: With spine-tingling scares, short chapters, cartoon art, and progress bars to show you how far you've read, this video game-style chapter book (the 1st in a series) will keep you turning pages.
A Dog-Friendly Town by
Welcome to: Carmelito, California, where 12-year-old Epic McDade and his family run a dog-friendly bed and breakfast that's currently packed with famous guests (both canine and human) getting ready for Carmelito's Annual Puppy Picnic.
What happens: After a diamond-covered dog collar is stolen, Epic and his siblings search for the culprit while trying to avoid nosy gossip bloggers.
You might also like: Elizabeth Eulberg's The Great Shelby Holmes, another dog-centric mystery with quirky characters and a vivid setting.
The Time of Green Magic by
What it's about: Moving into a vine-covered old house proves life-changing for Abi and her new stepsiblings: things from Abi's books start appearing in real life, 13-year-old Max tumbles into his first crush, and six-year-old Louis adopts a feline friend who becomes more menacing as it grows bigger and bigger.
Read it for: a stirring family story with an eerie blend of magic and reality.
Something to Say by
Lisa Moore Ramée
What it's about: Jenae is okay with starting middle school without any friends -- she'd rather stay quiet and invisible. That begins to change, however, when she bonds with loud new kid Aubrey, and when a debate over her school's name (it's named after a racist celebrity) spurs her into speaking up.
If you like: the honesty, low-key humor, and authentic characters in this book, you'll want to pick up author Lisa Moore Ramée's previous book, A Good Kind of Trouble.
Not Your All-American Girl by
Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang
What it's about: In 1984 Virginia, sensational singer Lauren is angry when she isn't cast as the lead in the school musical because her Chinese and Jewish looks aren't "all-American" enough. Lauren's white bestie Tara gets the part instead, and even worse, she doesn't understand why Lauren's mad.
Read it for: Lauren's fiery grandmas; the funny buttons Lauren makes; and Lauren's relatable search for belonging even when other people make her feel like she doesn't fit in.
Counting Thyme by
What it's about: Eleven-year-old Thyme can't stop feeling guilty. She knows that her family's recent move from California to New York was the only way for her little brother, Val, to get the cancer treatment he needs. But if she really wants her brother to get better, why can't she shake her homesickness?
Read it for: a sensitive, heartfelt story about a loving family dealing with a crisis.
Halfway Normal by
Starring: Nora Levy, who's survived leukemia but now has to face seventh grade after being out of school for two years.
What happens: It's tough to go back to normal when her parents are over-protective and everyone in her grade treats her like she's different, so Nora decides not to tell her new friend Griffin about her cancer.
You might also like: Jordan Sonnenblick's After Ever After, another bittersweet yet hopeful read about the challenges of life after cancer.
The Someday Suitcase by
Corey Ann Haydu
What it's about: Lifelong best friends Danny and Clover are so close that quiet, scientific Clover thinks they're symbiotic -- they can't live without each other. So, when Danny develops major health problems, Clover wonders: Can her friendship help him get better? And if not, how will she get by without him?
For fans of: Ali Benjamin's The Thing About Jellyfish, another sincere story about the connections between science, friendship, and loss.
More to the Story by
What it is: an update of Louisa May Alcott's classic Little Women, starring Jameela, Maryam, Bisma, and Aleeza, four sisters from a close-knit Pakistani American family.
What happens: With a job on the school newspaper and an exciting new friendship with British newcomer Ali, Jameela's 7th-grade year is looking up... until her dad goes overseas for work and Bisma becomes seriously ill.
Who it's for: readers who like feisty heroines, cozy vibes, and modern, realistic family stories.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 8-11!